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Friday, July 3, 2009

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EVE Online: August Update Plans, New Novel Coming Soon
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

CCP Games has announced work on Apocrypha 1.5, a new update for its popular sci-fi MMO, EVE Online. As revealed in a recent developer blog the update will feature the addition of small and medium ship rigs, several new epic mission arcs, specialized cargo holds, and factional warfare improvements.

Things have been silent on the dev front since the release of Apocrypha this March. Apocrypha was a major success for EVE Online. We rose to new heights in terms of concurrent players and subscribers, and more importantly, we are very proud of the new features and functionality it provided.

Now we are working hard on our winter expansion. Winter is quite far away, and we felt because Apocrypha was really early for a summer expansion, we should put out a mini-expansion, rather than wait until winter to release all the stuff we are working on. It should come out mid-August if all goes well. We refer to it as Apocrypha 1.5.

Small, Medium and Large rigs:
Ever wanted to build the ultimate speed kite frigate but couldn‘t afford the rigs? Tank your cruiser to the max? Mod your little hauler? Now you can!
We are adding small and medium sized rigs ( existing rigs will be considered large rigs ), which will be cheaper to buy and make. With this we are hoping that more people may get introduced to the joys of rigging and the sorrow of losing your specially fitted beautifully rigged ship. CCP Chronitis will explain further in an upcoming blog.

Level 4 epic arcs in Apocrypha 1.5:
Apocrypha 1.5 will be rich with content. We have several new epic mission arcs, which unlike the level 1 epic arc we introduced in Apocrypha are all level 4, meaning they will be more challenging, but also more rewarding. With each themed around a specific race, these captivating stories deal with moral ambiguity, intrigue, honor and some people's lack of it. This should come as no surprise to those who know EVE and what we are about. As before with the epic arc that was released in Apocrypha, they provide a deep, interesting story, where your choices influence the outcome.
CCP Games has also announced that Hjalti Daníelsson (CCP Abraxas) has written a new novel based on the game. EVE: The Burning Life will follow the exploits of a lone survivor of a vicious attack and a woman seeking redemption. It is scheduled to be released this November.
Hjalti Daníelsson (AKA CCP Abraxas) noted writer of a cargohold full of EVE Chronicles and various other forms of EVE Online fiction, has birthed EVE's next big novel, EVE: The Burning Life. It's set for cross-oceanic release in November by Tor Books and Orion Books. If Abraxas' dark SciFi moodiness was ever in question, this summary of the novel should quell all doubt:

"A vicious attack on a deep space mining colony results in its destruction and the death of nearly all its inhabitants. Of the handful of tattered survivors, a lone young man swears revenge upon the forces that cost him everything but his breath.

In another part of the universe, an agent of death loses her tenuous grip on sanity, leaves her profession and everything of her past life, and goes on a journey of redemption.

Their respective paths will take them through galactic empires built on faith, hedonism, discipline and rebellion, and plunge them into the darkest parts of space where they encounter denizens of the chaotic and dangerous pirate kingdoms. And all the while, as they draw closer to what they seek, they begin to realize that the only stakes worth playing for are the ones that bring danger and change..."
Check out the post linked below to learn more about future plans for the game.

EVE Online Blog: August Update Plans
EVE: The Burning Life Coming In November
CCP Games
EVE Online

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WoW: Warlock Q&A
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Blizzard Entertainment has posted another lengthy Q&A with Ghostcrawler and the World of Warcraft Development Team. This discussion focuses on the Warlock class in the popular MMORPG with a range of topics including the Warlock's role in the game, weaknesses in PvP, and future plans for the class.

Where do warlocks fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do we see them going from this point forward?
Ghostcrawler: The warlock is a caster -- a ranged damage dealer. They can fill only one role, which makes them a “pure” class as opposed to a hybrid. Warlocks have a reputation for trafficking with darkness, and their spells and abilities reflect this -- demons, curses, drains, fears. All warlocks rely on damage-over-time spells and demonic pets to some extent. The Affliction tree focuses on damage-over-time spells, curses, and shadow magic in general. The Demonology tree emphasizes the damage and abilities done by demons. The Destruction tree gives up a little of both to become a little bit more like a mage with direct damage and fire magic. Overall, the vision is for warlocks to feel less fragile than mages. They have historically had higher health pools and easier to sustain mana, but fewer emergency escapes. Keeping the mage and warlock feeling distinct is a big challenge. They fill a similar role and share similar gear so sometimes even the profiles of their character art look similar.
Going forward, we want to try and make the warlock experience more different from the mage. Our new plans for Soul Shards will help here. We want to make them a core mechanic instead of a minor feature that can be neglected at best and feels tedious at worst.
We’re happy with the relative damage done by Affliction and Destruction. Depending on which Lich King patch you look at one or the other are slightly on top, but they’re close. Demonology still seems to lag a little behind. We think there is still room for a strong Felguard build in there. It might be that the pets still require too much management or it could just be that the rotation isn’t as interesting as the ones Affliction or Destruction use right now. Demonology suffers from a little bit of the same problem as the Beastmaster hunter, which is when the pet is such a big part of your damage you are crippled in moments when the pet is killed or ineffectual.
Except for a brief moment early in Lich King, warlocks have been under-represented in PvP and we want to see more of them. We don’t want to get there through fear bombs, though. In fact, we think the damage locks can do is in a pretty good place. The problem is survivability, especially when stunned. Now some of the 3.2 changes are going to chill out damage across the board and we are increasing the survivability of pets in PvP. Both of those changes should help warlocks, who historically have been a little better in endurance fights than quick scrums. If those changes aren’t enough, we’re prepared to make additional ones.
Lich King made the warlock pets more interesting but we think there is still a lot of opportunity here. Some of the pets have abilities that just don’t get much use (Imp Fire Shield anyone?) while other pets could benefit from a couple more abilities. The voidwalker for example does all of his damage through just a simple autoattack. While we are slightly positioning the imp as a Destruction pet and the felhound as an Affliction pet, we think we can make the choice of what demon to use at a particular time more interesting. The succubus has too narrow a niche, and the voidwalker is still used mostly as a level-up pet.
Click over to the link below to read more.

WoW: Warlock Q&A
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
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Dustin Browder Discusses Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Shacknews has posted a new Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty Q&A with Blizzard Entertainment's Dustin Browder. The questions cover a range of topics related to the game's units, interface, and single playerfeatures. StarCraft 2 will pick up a few years after the end of Broodwar and will follow the story of the Terrans.

Shack: You haven't shown much of the singleplayer component, and that may be one reason for a lot of the skepticism. Do you think the Terran campaign will catch some people by surprise?
Dustin Browder: I hope so. It's going to be pretty huge. It's really different than anything you've seen before in our titles. This is sort of a level of choice and options for the player--RTS is typically, you're on the rail man. And if you get a mission you can't beat, I guess you'd better take it back. Well, you can't take it back anymore. [laughs] I'm [thinking] of when you could take games back at [Electronics Boutique].
But you were just stuck right, and that's terrible. But now if you get stuck, you can go, "I'm going to come back to this one. I'm going to go myself something powerful and come back here and make this one suffer." At the same time, I think players--we learned a lot obviously in StarCraft, and I think this team learned even more in WarCraft III, in terms of the kinds of mechanics that you're going to get in this campaign. The kinds of things you're going to be doing in missions, I think is pretty cool stuff that maybe players aren't quite prepared for.
We've got a mission right now where every five minutes, lava rises and kills everything on the ground. Everything dies. You've got to get to the high ground or die. We've got a mission right now where infested Terrans are attacking at night, but they're hiding in the ground by day, so you need to just hold out all night long like you're in I Am Legend. Like, "I've got to live!" and then day, "Get 'em! Kill 'em while they sleep!" And you run out and you burn everything as fast as you can, and then when darkness starts coming you have to get back and hide out.
We've got missions where you're trying to defend a Terran colony that's getting infested one piece at a time, and you've got to try to put out all these fires while fighting off these infested units. We've got this mission where you are a lone ghost trying to influence the course of an entire battle. So each of these missions is like a little minigame.

Shack: Is (the) hub for players to explore between levels?
Dustin Browder: Yeah, it's like a hub. It's like a place that lets you choose your mission, your technology. We've added some parts that haven't been in there in the past, that I don't think I've told anybody else about today actually--we've actually got some mercenaries you can hire, which is a new way to get some troops onto the field. And they're one use per mission, but they regenerate after every mission.
We've got some research that you can do, and that's really just a fancy way of saying we have some quests for you. So you have a scientist that says, "Okay, here's the deal: I can get some really cool technology for you, but I need you to go get some stuff from the battlefields." So when you get into the battlefields, some battlefields will say hey, there's a research objective. Find the Protoss artifacts, or find and kill that giant horrible Zerg creature that's going to really wreck your day unless you're really ready to fight him.
So then once you complete enough of those, over multiple missions we unlock some special tech for you. And then of course the armory tech where you choose what upgrades you want to have for your units.
So it's a hub for all these things, and then in addition, it's a chance for you to get a little bit closer to these characters and find out more about the story if you're inclined. If you're not inclined it's cool. We've got lots of little cutscenes that are full of action and people shouting at eachother and stuff. You can just watch those and you get the gist. But if you want to find out more of the inner motivations, you can delve into it.
And our theme in this one, it's like, look, everyone has a different tolerance for story. Some people want more, some people want less. We don't want to force it down their throat, but we don't want it not in there. So we create an environment where it's much more of an optional experience. If you're really interested in these characters--and we kind of hope that at some point everyone is interested in at least some of them--then you can sort of customize your story experience and get as much of it as you want.
Head over to the link below to read the whole interview.

Shacknews: Dustin Browder Talks SC II
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

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Spore Galactic Adventures Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The New York Times Online has published a new review of Spore Galactic Adventures. The expansion for Will Wright's evolution sim offers players the ability to beam down to planets, an equipment editor, and an Adventure Creator that will give gamers the chance to create their own missions and share them with others.

From the review:

In the original Spore the final phase entailed little more than flying around an abstraction of the Milky Way, shooting at spaceships that represented various alien incursions. Galactic Adventures is meant to provide myriad, uh, adventures throughout the galaxy that give meaning to why you’re warping around all the time. The player creates an avatar, called a captain, which improves its various attributes by completing quests. The more quests you finish, the more powerful you become, in true role-playing style.

The strength of Galactic Adventures is in the rich pool of tools it gives players to create their own scenarios. The basic visual style is goofy and kid friendly, but there is nothing stopping you from creating an evocation of the infernal regions. Players can shape the landscape and place buildings and creatures.

For every creature the player can set up a hierarchy of behaviors like “mind your own business, but once a hostile creature gets close, make defending the nest your prime objective.” Galactic Adventures’ strongest suit is how easily it explains how to create such behaviors and environments.

The problem is that Electronic Arts itself does so little with these prodigious tools. It is almost as if the company were waiting for its customers to create the game for it.

Most of the levels included with the game are almost embarrassingly mundane: kill the enemies, defend the base from attackers, escort some dude from here to there, collect an arbitrary number of doodads, race the course as fast as you can. By contrast LittleBigPlanet also revolves around allowing players to create their own content, but its maker, Media Molecule, set an incredibly high bar in demonstrating what its own tools were capable of.
Click on the link below to read the rest. Spore Galactic Adventures Review
Electronic Arts
Spore Galactic Adventures
Buy Spore Galactic Adventures

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Midnight Mansion Updated
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Midnight Mansion 1.1.8, a free update to ActionSoft's action/exploration game, has been released. The latest version adds the new ActionSoft logo to the game's startup sequence, and fixes a problem in the lower-left area of Cathedral Towers Easy room. In Midnight Mansion players take the role of Jack Malone as they explore for hidden treasure in eight huge mansions filled with traps, puzzles, and secrets.

Midnight Mansion is an action/exploration platformer with 32-bit graphics, spine-tingling sound effects, and professional quality music. As Jack Malone, you will explore eight huge mansions, each filled with traps, puzzles, and secrets, as you search for legendary treasure. Ride on conveyor belts, avoid zapper beams, and dodge monsters as you collect keys that give you access to new areas of each mansion. Non-violent gameplay allows the whole family to enjoy the game. Features include multiple user accounts, online high scores, suspend game, a level editor, and much more.

System Requirements:
- Any Macintosh capable of running MacOS X (PowerPC or Intel)
- MacOS X 10.1.5 or higher (MacOS X 10.2 or higher recommended)
- Minimum 20 MB free RAM.
Follow the links below for more information.

Midnight Mansion

Mac Games News for Thursday, July 2, 2009

Apple Games Features Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince6:00 AM
Robert Clotworthy To Return As Voice Of Jim Raynor In SC II6:00 AM
Warcraft III, Diablo II Patches Coming Soon6:00 AM
WoW: Faction Change Service In Development6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Thursday, July 2, 2009 on one page

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